Electronic diary assessment of pain-related variables: Is reactivity a problem?

Leslie A. Aaron, Judith A. Turner, Lloyd Mancl, Heather Brister, Craig N. Sawchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Reactive measures (measures that change the phenomenon assessed) cause problems in interpreting any changes observed. This study examined whether electronic daily diary measures of pain, activity interference, mood, and pain beliefs were reactive in terms of both observable data and patient-reported effects. Patients with chronic temporomandibular disorder pain (N = 71, 86% female) completed electronic diaries 3 times daily for approximately 2 weeks and subsequently reported perceived effects on symptom-related variables. Seventy-three percent of patients reported that the assessment affected their pain, whereas 51%, 45%, and 39% thought that it affected their daily activities, mood, and beliefs, respectively. In contrast, there was little objective evidence of reactivity as observed in the electronic diary ratings; changes over 14 days were small (eg, predicted changes on 0 to 10 scales: positive mood, .1; pain, -.3; perceived control, -.5) and not statistically significant. Subjective reactivity was generally not significantly related to objective reactivity. The data suggest that patients view daily assessment as having positive and negative effects on pain-related variables, but pain-related measures do not show reactive effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Chronic pain
  • Daily electronic interviews
  • Reactivity
  • Temporomandibular disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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